Sunday, November 30, 2003



BLOGGER'S NOTE: I've decided to take part of Thanksgiving Weekend off from blogging. Instead, I've compiled a set of jokes others have passed on to me this year. Hope you enjoy them!

It was Palm Sunday and because of a sore throat, five-year-old Johnny stayed home from church with a sitter. When the
family returned home, they were carrying several palm branches. The boy asked what they were for.

"People held them over Jesus' head as He walked by."

"Wouldn't you know it," the boy fumed. "The one Sunday I don't go, He shows up!"

The prospective father-in-law asked, "Young man, can you support a family?"

The surprised groom-to-be replied, "Well, no. I was just planning to support your daughter. The rest of you will have to fend for yourselves."

Little Johnny asked his grandma how old she was. Grandma answered, "39 and holding."

Johnny thought for a moment, and then said, "and how old would you be if you let go?"

A little boy in church for the first time watched as the ushers passed around the offering plates. When they came near his pew, the boy said loudly, "Don't pay for me, Daddy. I'm under five."

The Church School teacher asked, "Now, Johnny, tell me, do you say prayers before eating?"

"No sir," he replied, "we don't have to. My mom is a good cook!"

"Oh, I sure am happy to see you," the little boy said to his grandmother on his mother's side. "Now maybe Daddy will do the trick he has been promising us."

The grandmother was curious. "What trick is that?"

"I heard him tell Mommy that he would climb the walls if you came to visit."

My husband bought me a mood ring the other day. When I'm in a good mood, it turns green. When I'm in a bad mood, it
leaves a red mark on his forehead.

Then there's the one about U.S. Airways introducing a special half-fare for wives who accompanied their husbands on business trips. Expecting valuable testimonials, the P.R. department sent out letters to all the wives of businessmen who had used the special rates, asking how they enjoyed their trip. Letters are still pouring in asking, "What trip?"

"Do you believe in life after death?" the boss asked one of his employees.

"Yes, sir," the new employee replied.

"Well, then, that makes everything just fine. After you left early yesterday to go to your grandmother's funeral, she stopped in to see you." (Thanks to Sandy Collins in Lee County, Alabama for all of the above!)

I've been playing "The Sims" video game a lot lately and I keep dreaming I'm one of the Sims. What an exciting life I lead.
(From Kristen Eve in Memphis)

Your hamlet sounds remarkably like mine. It's a simmering stew of the old-money (we call them the WWDD's--- When Will Daddy Die?).... (From Diane Welker in Clarksville, Tennessee)

"S-O-A - Same Old A**holes." (From a Columbus TV employee whom we're keeping anonymous)

To offer a tip or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post a reply.

Saturday, November 29, 2003



Maybe you've been nibbling on turkey for a few days. I've been chewing on several interesting scenes....

SCENE 1: An east Alabama couple which attends church with me marked its 50th wedding anniversary Friday. We shared a cake in their honor this afternoon -- a cake with pictures of the husband and wife when they were young. The photo of the wife showed her SO young that it brought all sorts of Alabama stereotypes to mind.

I don't know how bakeries do it -- making cakes with photos in the icing. I'm even more amazed that every time I have a piece of a picture, it doesn't taste like ink at all.

(But I have to let other people slice those cakes with people's pictures on them. I fear I'll chop somebody's nose in two.)

SCENE 2: This evening's Florida State-Florida football game was truly a thriller. So why on earth did WRBL interrupt the CBS telecast in the final minute, for 95 seconds of commercials? Did someone there want to reenact the Heidi Bowl?

Would YOU want to have been answering the phones at WRBL, while those commercials were on the air? And to make things worse, the surprising local break never even showed the Cash 3 lottery numbers.

The interruption of the football game ended with a slide claiming an infomercial was starting on WRBL. If that program had started and the game not returned, I'm not which would have happened in more abundance - local football fans having heart attacks, or Florida fans trying to turn over cars in the station parking lot.

(By the way, about that infomercial which started ten minutes late - is the only name they could think of "Holiday Shop?" Hasn't WRBL noticed another TV station has used a VERY similar name for years?)

During the second half of the Florida State-Florida game, CBS got Georgia head coach Mark Richt on the telephone. Richt admitted he was "stuck in Atlanta traffic," heading from the Georgia Tech game to tape his coach's show. Yet another out-of-towner who needs to learn MARTA trains are more convenient....

SCENE 3: Two Fort Benning buzzcut boys are talking over dinner at a Taco Bell. One of them apparently is a Roman Catholic from New York:

"Every Saint Patrick's Day, it's a holy day. We have a special mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral, which is one of the biggest churches in the United States...."

Huh? For some reason, Houlihan's Old Place doesn't seem to mention that part of the tradition.

I'm torn over what to have for dinner at Taco Bell, so I ask the woman behind the counter what's the difference between a Chalupa and a Gordita.

"The Gordita is on pita bread.... The Chalupa is deep-fried, and dipped in grease."

That settles it. I order two Gorditas - while wondering why those names aren't reversed.

(Instant Message to the Taco Bell staff on Buena Vista Road: I said "MILD" when you asked about a sauce. Did my northern accent sound to you like HOT?)

Friday, November 28, 2003



My schedule for this Friday is a basic one: do the laundry, exercise and check church magazine stands. Oh yes, one special thing HAS been added - avoid Peachtree Mall, Columbus Park Crossing and Wal-Mart stores at all cost.

My personal "freeze period" begins today, where I do NOT visit any malls until December 26th unless it's an absolute emergency. So here's a reminder for those of you lining up outside at 5:45 a.m. outside Dillard's - some of us are laughing at you in our sleep.

Did I see the commercial correctly - Fred's discount stores are opening for shoppers at 5:00 a.m.?! Aw, c'mon! The 12:00 noon college football game between Colorado and Nebraska isn't THAT big a matchup....

And how about the Wal-Mart commercial where "Josh" the associate declares, "The day after Thanksgiving is when it all begins"?! So what was that alleged Santa Claus at the mall doing the last few days -- pre-season drills?

I was shocked - SHOCKED! - earlier this week to drive to Peachtree Mall, and find a Sam's Club/Wal-Mart tractor-trailer sitting in the parking lot near Penney's. [True] Either one of the mall's big department stores is about to close, or this is where Wal-Mart secretly picks up the immigrant workers.

A few stores in Columbus were open Thursday. One friend told me about seeing a long line outside the door of a Kmart. You don't think President Bush got the idea for a secret trip to Baghdad from Martha Stewart travelling to Columbus.... ?!

I enjoyed Thanksgiving Dinner at Ryan's on Manchester Expressway Thursday evening, and the restaurant was pretty full. But the cashier told me she expected to see a bigger crowd. I'm assuming that's in numbers - and not the waistlines of the people walking in.

The trip to Ryan's was a break in a long workday for me. I worked on Thanksgiving in Columbus for the seventh year in a row! At this rate, I'll never get to see the Detroit Lions on TV in their new stadium....

Oh yeah, I didn't explain the "freeze period" business. I won't shop at malls for the next four weeks because I don't celebrate Xmas. Personally, I think Lucy got it right in that Charlie Brown special when she declared, "It's run by a big eastern syndicate, you know."

Yes, I believe Christ was born - but I don't believe it was on or around December 25th. In fact, I'm still trying to find the Bible verse where the ox and a** (don't want to offend here) kept time to that little drummer boy....

And then there's Santa Claus. I'm sorry if this bursts any snow bubbles, but the guys in the mall are nothing but big, red, fat, phony frauds! They're in charge of Xmas about as much as Governor Bob Riley is in charge of the Auburn University Board of Trustees.

So now you know why Friday's schedule is so ordinary for me. But I must admit I HAVE toyed with the idea of writing a new opera about this time of year -- "A Mall and the Night Visitors."

SONG OF THE DAY: Since Tommy Tuberville is showing remarkable wisdom by not saying a word, I'll speak for the Auburn football coach - putting new words on the "Tommy" rock opera song, "Pinball Wizard:"

Ever since the new millennium, he's coached out on the Plains.

He's had some winning records, but things are rather strange.

His boss flew to Kentucky, like he was 'bout to fall.

But yet Tommy Tuberville's -

Still coaching that foot-ball!

His aide was named Petrino, who took a better job.

The trustees went to see him, and Louisville felt robbed.

Now athletic directors are so close to a brawl,

And there's Tommy Tuberville -

Still coaching that foot-ball!

We thought a win o'er 'Bama was enough.

Now for David Housel, the going's getting rough!

"Why do you think they went there?"

"I don't know! Tommy's just 7-and-5!"

If Tommy takes a new job, then who will take the blame?

The President of Auburn? That seems a little lame.

The A.D. and the trustees - they're in denial, all.

For now, Tommy Tuberville's -

Still coaching that foot-ball!

To offer a tip or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post a reply.

If you quote from this in public somewhere, please be polite enough to let me know.

© 2003 Richard Burkard, All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, November 27, 2003



BLOGGER'S NOTE: Oops! I meant to post this Thanksgiving morning, but walked out the door completely forgetting about it! Sorry....

I was going to take Thanksgiving Day off from blogging, but the news simply won't let me. From Columbus to Auburn, too many famous names are kissing and making up with each other....

The first concession came Wednesday morning at Muscogee County Court. The NAACP emerged from a closed-door meeting with the Election Board, and announced it's dropping its challenge to the one-cent school sales tax vote. It's always better to settle things in private than get embarrassed in public.

The NAACP went to court challenging reported problems at polling places on November 4th. A 90-minute meeting with Election Board members apparently settled the civil rights group's concerns -- so next time, apparently more work will be done to educate voters about what "yes" and "no" mean.

The Election Board's Nancy Boren revealed one idea from the meeting was the establishing of a hotline number, for people to report troubles and violations at the polls. A similar service was available on the day of the sales tax vote -- but TV news crews were too busy covering that overturned tanker in Phenix City.

NAACP chapter President Edward Dubose told reporters he was glad the school sales tax vote challenge reached court, even if a court hearing never occurred. Why would he say that? Does this mean the Election Board had to pay to bring in that judge from Houston County?

Perhaps a court challenge was the only Edward Dubose figured he could get a meeting with the Muscogee County Election Board. But of course, his chances of another meeting with Superintendent John Phillips just dropped.

I was out jogging Wednesday evening when the other big concession broke on my headphone radio. Auburn University's President announced head football coach Tommy Tuberville WILL return next season. So much for Tuberville's plans to roll Toomer's Corner with his contract - then record a blues duet with Terry Bowden.

It turns out Tommy Tuberville's job WAS on the line the last few days. Auburn's President, Athletic Director and two trustees flew to Louisville last Thursday to interview the head coach there. These officials must have attended the same management training course Dr. John Phillips did.

We don't know yet if Tommy Tuberville knew about the Auburn officials' trip to Louisville. But Louisville's Athletic Director didn't know about it, and he's fuming. It's one thing to steal a win on the road - but a head coach?!

Another man who never knew about the trip to Louisville was Alabama Governor Bob Riley, who chairs the Auburn University Board of Trustees. He released a statement Wednesday saying he was stunned about not being told. Perhaps it's only fitting that Auburn's projected to play in the Independence Bowl next month....

Governor Bob Riley's statement included an apology to the University of Louisville, for the trip by Auburn officials to interview head football coach Bobby Petrino. We should note the Governor has yet to issue an apology for anything Roy Moore did.

The trip to Louisville even brought a response from the mother of Auburn running back Carnell Williams. She said her son would leave a year early for pro football if Tommy Tuberville was fired. And you know how much N.F.L. coaches prefer "Cadillacs" with low mileage....

This is a case where the University of Alabama handled things a lot better than Auburn did. It took the Crimson Tide less time to dump the cheerleader who said "War Eagle" on ESPN.

(But then again, Alabama could have sent all its cheerleaders to Hawaii for this weekend's game -- then simply left that Auburn-lover behind in Honolulu.)

Now a few final notes before a Thanksgiving rest....

+ WRBL decided the "Top Story" in the news at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday was alternatives to eating turkey for Thanksgiving. If that's the top news story of the day, someone there needs to renew the station's newspaper subscription.

+ The Columbus Civic Center posted a sign promoting a New Year's Eve concert by the rock band "Three Doors Down." Well, at least I THINK that's what it meant. Maybe the concert really is three doors down from the Civic Center, at Port Columbus.

+ Instant message to all Money Back stores: So gas prices are drifting LOWER during Thanksgiving week?! Aha, I knew it! That ten-cent price hike was YOUR version of an SOA Watch protest.

+ I hereby announce I will not make any further jokes about Michael Jackson. After all, attorney Mark Geragos announced he would put anyone "out of business" who disparages his client - and somehow I can't imagine him writing a blog about Columbus, Georgia.

(Could you believe those tough, scary words from Mark Geragos? I thought judges were the ones who issued gag orders....)

COMING SOON: The start of the shopping rush.... and why I shaved and put on cologne to make a bank deposit. Have a happy, safe and meaningful Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2003


As Thanksgiving Day approaches, what are YOU thankful for? Perhaps my own partial list can help you -- in no particular order:

+ For a church congregation which had a Thanksgiving dinner last weekend, and a workplace which held a catered Thanksgiving lunch Tuesday. When I go out to eat Thursday evening, I'm going to feel both spoiled and guilty.

+ For all the people who have purchased my debut album, and all of you who plan to buy it. You can hear the Christian music with a clear conscience, knowing you didn't steal it through an Internet download.

+ For the new Veterans Parkway Bridge, ending the downtown detours. It feels good to go over that bridge at the posted speed limit of 30 miles per hour, and watch all the law-breaking speeders pass me.

+ For Muscogee County School Superintendent Dr. John Phillips. He's turning out to be a lot more entertaining than Guy Sims.

+ For my landlord, who has not increased my rent one penny since I moved to Columbus six years ago. Now who wants to introduce the rent control ordinance at Columbus Council?

+ For "Ritmo Latino Radio," which has brought good salsa and merengue music back to Columbus radio for the first time in years. Now if they can get the announcers to talk in Spanish a little slower, so I can understand them....

+ For Pizza Hut, which offers great discount coupons. It's nice to know they'll be open and serving pizza on Thanksgiving Day - for people who want plenty of privacy.

+ For Opelika, only a 30-minute drive away. At least THAT city has a Kroger store....

+ For Computer Discounters on Veterans Parkway, which has fixed my computer power problems for four years. So when do I get my "frequent foul-up discount?"

+ For Amy Giuliano - who's become the most heart-pounding reason to watch WRBL News since Katie Crecente left town. (I'll let the ladies fight over Trent Aric.)

+ For the men and women from Fort Benning who battled in Iraq, and made it safely home. Hopefully someone on post is creating a Saddam Hussein ice sculpture, for you to attack after Thanksgiving dinner.

+ For Auburn University Athletic Director David Housel - who apparently realizes it's Thanksgiving week, and is waiting until December to fire football coach Tommy Tuberville.

(Instant Message to David Housel: You realize, I hope, Mike Price still doesn't have a coaching job....)

+ For the Playwright Café downtown starting Monday "Scrabble nights." When tournament time comes, it'll be a great way for me to earn extra money.

+ For everyone who worked to clean up the Riverwalk after the May flooding, and prepared the renovated section under the Trade Center. May you all receive reduced jail terms.

+ For the Alabama Supreme Court, which has put videotapes of the trial of Chief Justice Roy Moore on sale for 12 dollars. Some preachers who back Moore would have demanded a donation of at least 30.

+ For the most powerful people in Columbus, the people who can close schools and public meetings merely by saying the right words - yes, the TV meteorologists.

+ For the Columbus Cottonmouths deciding to stay in town another season. I was going to ask why the hockey team's games are not on radio this fall - but now that they have a 12-game losing streak, I really don't care anymore.

+ For the Columbus library system and its high-speed public access computers. They let me clean out e-mail spam in half the time it takes at home.

+ For pre-Thanksgiving sales at Peachtree Mall, offering some surprisingly good discounts. We'll see you mall shoppers again around December 30th.

+ For Robbie Watson - who, from what we can tell, is now the last real radio news reporter left in Columbus.

+ For the Columbus Council naming Memorial Stadium after the late A.J. McClung. Maybe by NEXT football season, they'll get around to putting his name on the main south entrance.

+ For Callaway Gardens, which announced Tuesday Harold Callaway will leave a Colorado resort and come home to be C.E.O. Wow - it took him 18 years to finally get tired of all that snow?!

+ For an improving economy in Russell County - improving to the point where homes can cost $300,000, and be bought by potential Muscogee County school officials who haven't even been hired yet.

+ For Miriam Tidwell, who has Robert "Jazzano" Carr play piano throughout her Tuesday night talk show on TV-16. At least Carr's jazz work is usually interesting....

+ And for all of you who read this blog, and send e-mail comments pro and con about it. I deeply appreciate your interest, and encourage you to tell your friends about it - so someday, this blog might have more readers than the Ledger-Enquirer.

© 2003 Richard Burkard, All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

My new CD of Christian music had nice sales at a Columbus congregation this past weekend! Click here for details on my debut album -- including .mp3 samples you can hear. And while you're here, read below for some humorous thoughts about the area I call home.



A new "boy band" took the stages of Marshall Middle School and East Columbus Magnet Academy Monday, called "B-5." Michael Jackson had better not hear about this group -- because he might take that name personally....

We're told B-5 is the latest discovery from Sean "P-Diddy" Combs. Now all he needs to do is start dating Jennifer Lopez again - and together, you'd have P-B-and-J-Lo.

The B-5 concerts in middle schools were a bit unusual, because they were NOT for the entire student body. The foundation "Hip Fit Kids" opened them only to invited students, with good grades and behavior reports. Sad to say, the other Marshall Middle School students have had regular assemblies since August - in Recorder's Court, then at a teenager's funeral....

Isn't it curious how two Columbus middle schools did NOT allow all the students to see the B-5 concert? I thought the lesson of the last 50 years was that separatism in schools is wrong.

Isn't P-Diddy taking a big risk, bringing a musical group called B-5 to this part of the country? Think about it....

+ Athens was the home of the B-52's - and they might sue him for trademark infringement.

+ Fort Benning might try to turn the members of B-5 into bomber pilots.

+ The staff of B-101 FM could find out about this, and slap station bumper stickers all over the tour bus of the

(We can see it now - a nursing home version of B-5, only called "O-75....")

BLOG UPDATE: What do you know - we found out Monday the Alabama Court of the Judiciary trial of Roy Moore was videotaped by the state! And it cost $3,000 to do it! So why didn't they allow TV news cameras to show the trial live? Were the panel's lawyers concerned about not getting enough "face time?"

(You may recall former Chief Justice Roy Moore wanted TV cameras to show his trial live. It was probably the first time this conservative lawyer had any confidence in the liberal news media.)

By the way, the week of Roy Moore's promised announcement which "could alter the course of this country and this state" now has passed. About the only thing the former Chief Justice did was speak on the Ten Commandments controversy in suburban Kansas City. So what did he say? Did Kansas really win last April's college basketball final after all?

Now let's "chow down" on some dining details from the start of a holiday week:

+ We spotted a man near the front window of Ruby Tuesday at Peachtree Mall, wearing a camouflage jacket and hat and pondering a bottle of Coors Light on his table. If the guy is sitting there, is it safe to conclude he didn't shoot any deer today?

+ People keep telling us how thrilled they are about plans for a new Chick-Fil-A in Midtown. I'm sorry, but I simply can't be that enthusiastic - because the cows in the ads teach all sorts of bad spelling errors.

+ Instant Message to the Italian Village Restaurant on Wynnton Road: I think I know the real reason why you're having trouble getting that city wine license. When an Italian restaurant is run by a man named Spyro Zafiratos, it IS a bit suspicious.

COMING THIS WEEK: We'll try again to take a day off from blogging, to let friends of ours write the jokes. If you have one to offer, send it to us quickly.

Monday, November 24, 2003



What a confusing day Sunday was! So-called "linguini-spined liberals" opposed to war and violence rallied by the thousands outside Fort Benning -- yet the Benning supporters were the ones who wound up retreating and running away.

Sunday's "God Bless Fort Benning" rally was moved at the last minute from Torch Hill Road to a parking lot near Port Columbus. What a fitting location - a place which recalls another time in U.S. history when outnumbered Southerners retreated.

The official explanation for moving God Bless Fort Benning was that violent protesters might try to cause trouble. Maybe there's a lesson here for the organizers. Celebrate Fort Benning INSIDE the main gate - where soldiers and MP's can come to your rescue.

The alleged violent visitors to the SOA Watch rally reportedly were NOT part of the usual protest crowd. In other words, Father Roy Bourgeois could claim the anarchists somehow were connected to School of the Americas graduates.

(Hey, wait a minute! Violent people on the south side of Columbus?! I thought we were trying to get rid of these stereotypes....)

Organizer Miriam Tidwell said she wanted the "silent majority" in the Columbus area to back Fort Benning and attend Sunday's pro-military rally. Maybe the change of location explains why the majority is silent. Deep-down inside, they're nervous of doing anything that could get them in trouble.

(Hmmmm -- silent majority? That may explain why all the people in my neighborhood sat and stared when the Parade of Heroes came by last month....) [25 Oct]

Did I hear Miriam Tidwell right, when she said the God Bless Fort Benning rally had NOTHING to do with SOA Watch?! Isn't that a bit like saying a trip to church on Sunday has nothing to do with God?

One reporter at the scene said some of the SOA Watch protesters applauded, when the God Bless Fort Benning group left. Well, it's bad enough for them to compete against those new loudspeakers on the Fort Benning side of the fence....

Fort Benning set up loudspeakers near the Main Gate to play patriotic music, which at times drowned out the SOA Watch protesters. So it seems the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation trains people in "psy-ops" -- psychological operations, to drive the enemy crazy.

Did you hear what one protester from Miami said about the Fort Benning loudspeakers? She claimed it was part of a campaign to suppress free speech in the U.S. Well, no - you DO have free speech. It's a matter of who has the loudest speech.

Columbus Police required all SOA Watch protesters to undergo metal detector checks - to which some in the crowd chanted, "We do not accept this illegal search." I'm waiting now for a group to start chanting that at an airport.

Thankfully, terrorists and violent anarchists did NOT disrupt the SOA Watch demonstration. The closest thing to thugs in the crowd appeared on stage, doing an anti-violence rap number.

Only about 30 people crossed "the line" onto Fort Benning and were arrested. Last year with a smaller crowd, the number arrested was close to 100. So for you first-timers at the SOA Watch protest - you wimps have some work to do.

Was it just me, or was Father Roy Bourgeois noticeably quiet during the SOA Watch week this year? Maybe he feared that French-sounding last name would chase some protesters away....

Some of the SOA Watch protesters had nice places to stay over the weekend. I spotted three charter buses full of protesters Sunday morning, outside the downtown Wyndham Hotel. You almost wonder if they gathered for dinner inside Houlihan's Old Place, and raised a toast to the Irish Republican Army.

Have you ever wondered what happens inside Fort Benning on SOA Watch Sunday? One army wife told me over the weekend the Officer Candidate School conducted business as usual. Of course it would - it's the underlings who would be assigned the dirty work of arresting protesters.

The more I think about it, the more I conclude SOA Watch weekend is a lot like old-style pro wrestling. The moves by both sides are somewhat scripted, each side knows what the other's going to do - and even the blood on the street is fake.

To offer a tip or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post a reply.

If you quote from this in public somewhere, please be polite enough to let me know.

© 2003 Richard Burkard, All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, November 22, 2003



A car with a North Carolina tag passed me on Veterans Parkway tonight with several bumper stickers along the lines of "Out of Iraq NOW." Either that's an SOA Watch protester -- or Saddam Hussein is hiding inside our own country.

Preparations were made today not only for SOA Watch, but the Sunday "God Bless Fort Benning" rally on Torch Hill Road. Organizer Miriam Tidwell said when she put up a "WHINSEC Wins" sign, several people came up to her and asked what WHINSEC was. No, it's NOT for supporters of a college football conference.

(Instant message to the Tidwell family: What IS the admission price for God Bless Fort Benning, really? On TV they say it's a toy or a gift certificate - but the sign outside your cancer treatment center says it's free. Should I expect a table selling Miriam's Café certificates tomorrow?)

Give the city of Columbus credit -- it tried hard to distract the SOA Watch crowd away from the main gate of Fort Benning. But for some reason, protesters simply were not interested in today's Peanut Bowl at McClung Memorial Stadium.

Ruth Ann's Restaurant on Veterans Parkway was unusually busy for a Saturday evening. I assume this was due to large numbers of SOA Watch protesters. We don't know how many Hollywood liberals dined at the Olive Branch a few blocks away.

Have you wondered why SOA Watch hasn't changed its name, since the School of the Americas was replaced by the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation? I have a new hunch about this - the protest group is so poor it has to finish using the old name's stationery first.

My first SOA Watch protester sighting MAY have occurred Friday morning on Ninth Street, near Fifth Avenue. Three people were walking with suitcases. But then again, maybe they're not protesters - since they weren't carrying big signs or wearing tie-dyed shirts.

(Of course, if protesters are walking along Ninth Street downtown, some would suggest they go ahead and check in at Recorder's Court right now.)

I drove down Torch Hill Road around 12:00 noon Friday - and the only signs I saw of a protest then were the lines of police barricades along the side of the road. You'd think someone would be sitting on the sidewalk pounding a big drum already....

At a barbershop on South Lumpkin Road, a barber told me, "I've had one protester come in and get a haircut in all these years. That's all." If he wants business from SOA Watch marchers, maybe he should sell hair extensions instead.

(C'mon, Mr. Barber - do you really think people would travel hundreds or thousands of miles to Columbus and Fort Benning to get their hair cut? These are military protesters, not movie stars....)

The barber in Oakland Park admitted motels probably are making a windfall from SOA Watch weekend. But there's one question I've never heard anyone ask the motels after the protesters leave Columbus - how much bedding do they have to

A few Fort Benning men in uniform were at the barber shop. You may be surprised to learn some troops DO get days off for SOA Watch weekend - so the commanders seem a lot less nervous than the Columbus Police Department is.

(One soldier joked to me he wants the job of counting casualties from the SOA Watch protest - such as "K-I-A." Yes, killed in action.)

If the barber believes the protesters on South Lumpkin Road look odd, he hasn't visited the Winn-Dixie Marketplace up the street. Several produce racks are filled with 12-packs of soda. I know it's peach-flavored pop - but it can't be THAT realistic.

To offer a tip or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post a reply.

Friday, November 21, 2003



I was going to welcome the thousands of "School of the Americas Watch" protesters to Columbus - but I'm not sure I should. After all, Mayor Poydasheff openly has suggested the crowd go somewhere else. But without these people, imagine how even more desolate Victory Drive might be....

The Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau estimates the SOA Watch protest this weekend will bring $2 million to the Columbus area. In fact, I won't be surprised if Chapman's on Wynnton Road extends its hours Saturday night to sell sign-making supplies.

Between the SOA Watch protest and the Alabama-Auburn game, motel rooms from Columbus to Auburn are booked solid for the weekend. If too many protesters show up, Fort Benning may have to lend them some tents from the Third Brigade....

Some estimates indicate as many as 10,000 protesters will gather outside the Fort Benning main gate. They'll draw a lot of critics - who wouldn't say a word if that many people gathered outside Country's Barbecue for a 10,000-meter run.

The "School of the Americas" really isn't at Fort Benning anymore. It went out of business three years ago, replaced by the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation. In Benning shorthand, it's WHINSEC - and as protesters might already know, you can't spell that name without WHINE.

Mayor Bob Poydasheff says if the protesters want to shut down WHINSEC, they should go to Washington instead of the Fort Benning gates. Excuse us, Mr. Mayor - but SOA Watch did that for a day in September, and it didn't do any good THEN.

The Comnmandant of WHINSEC is trying a kindler, gentler approach toward the protesters. Col. Richard Downie is inviting them to an open house at the Institute on Saturday. It might help if he can teach WHINSEC students to sing "Kum Bah Yah."

There are some who argue the big protests outside Fort Benning would stop if The Mass Media merely ignored them. To that argument, I would only say this - did that approach change Michael Jackson's behavior?

To be honest, the SOA Watch protest IS a bit misleading to watch on television. A few years ago while thousands of people were outside the Fort Benning main gate, some friends from my former church congregation had a Saturday afternoon bowling outing on post. They rolled right in on Interstate 185, like Father Roy Bourgeois never knew it was there.

(So why don't SOA Watch leaders change their name to "WHINSEC Watch" or something? An online check Thursday night showed the military has NOT seized that name for a web site.)

BLOG UPDATE: A lawsuit filed in Montgomery Thursday claims Alabama's Court of the Judiciary is unconstitutional, so it had no power to fire Chief Justice Roy Moore. This clears the way for ExxonMobil to sue about losing that $15 billion oil
royalty case -- and claim the entire state of Alabama is unconstitutional.

Patrick Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition had the audacity to tell reporters the District Court suit is NOT about whether or not Roy Moore should be Chief Justice. If you believe that statement, you probably also believe Coach Tommy Tuberville's statement that he'll be back at Auburn next year.

E-MAIL UPDATE: I'm not the only blogger in the Columbus area. The e-mail introduced me to another one, apparently based in Phenix City:

Maybe the blog world around here will expand some more. I've been posting on redneckin for two years this January.

So why hadn't I heard about this before? Maybe it's that name "Redneckin'" - and the Phenix City Chamber of Commerce would rather you NOT make a connection.

The Redneckin' blog says it's based in Phenix City - and adds it's a "supporter of higher taxes in Columbus." So this blogger must be a business owner, waiting for a competitive advantage....

The Redneckin' blogger gets a bit personal at times. Several entries are about his "GF." To him, that means girlfriend. For some of us, it still might mean General Foods.

It's a bit puzzling, though, to read on the Redneckin' blog that the relationship with the "GF" has been "upgraded to understanding from permanent date." This is an upgrade?! A lot of women understand my feelings, but never wanted to even date me.

Thursday, November 20, 2003



The Russell County Commission had a showdown vote Wednesday - deciding to reinstate a County Administrator it had suspended several months ago. Supporters of Roy Moore heard this, and hurried back into their prayer closets....

Commissioner J.D. Upshaw made a motion to either "hire or fire" suspended Russell County Administrator LeAnn Horne-Jordan. What made this surprising is that Mr. Upshaw is African-American - so maybe he's read Zell Miller's new book about the Democrats.

Russell County Commissioner Tillman Pugh complained the call for an up-or-down vote on LeAnn Horne-Jordan was "pitting commissioner against commissioner." This seems like a strange complaint to make, during Iron Bowl week....

Tillman Pugh requested the vote on an Administrator be delayed until the Russell County Attorney is consulted. Have you noticed with all the talk of budget cuts in Alabama, no one's dared to suggest any drop in the number of government lawyers?

After failing to get a delay to consult the Russell County Attorney, Tillman Pugh reportedly tried to get an executive session of the Commission - and even requested a bathroom break! [True/WRBL] He may be the first elected official to try that TV "gotta go, gotta go right now" trick.

The Russell County Commission's vote was 4-3 to reinstate LeAnn Horne-Jordan as Administrator, effective December 1. That's enough to give her back her job - but not enough for her to take 90-minute lunch breaks.

LeAnn Horne-Jordan still has a sexual harassment suit pending against two Russell County commissioners, Tillman Pugh and Mervyn Dudley. Whoever works with this woman is advised to watch their whistling in the office VERY carefully.

LOTTO MILLIONAIRE UPDATE: It's remarkable. It's incredible. I learned by e-mail Wednesday night I've won a SECOND European lotto jackpot! At this rate, I may move to Europe and chase some of the "Next Joe Millionaire" rejects.

This e-mail notified me I've won $5.5 million in the Netherlands "SunSweetWin Promo Lottery." But I'm a bit skeptical about this one as well - because it says the announcement was made "today, 19th november June 2003." If you're going to send out form letters, at least leave some vital areas blank.

But I'm taking a big risk in posting my big win on the blog. The lottery's "security protocol" first asks me to keep the award private - then at the bottom of the e-mail, I'm warned a "breach of confidentiality" will get me disqualified. So if you have any "Dutch uncles," don't tell them a thing....

BLOG UPDATE: We're now more than halfway through the week, and former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore has yet to make that promised announcement which "could alter the course of this country and this state." We had some new theories
about what that announcement would be - BUT:

+ Tommy Tuberville says he's not quitting as Auburn football coach.

+ Michael Jackson hired some big-name Hollywood attorney as a legal consultant.

+ We'd have heard by now about Moore rushing the runway, to stop the Victoria's Secret fashion show.

Did you hear how much it cost to move the Ten Commandments monument into a closet at the Alabama Judicial Building? State officials say the bill comes to $7,000! They must have rented the most expensive dolly in Montgomery to roll that thing away.

The Associated Press says the Ten Commandments monument was rolled 50 feet, from the rotunda of the Alabama Judicial Building into a storage area. At a cost of $7,000, that computes to $140 per foot! Why, some pro football running backs get paid less than this....

COMING FRIDAY: The Watchers vs. WHINSEC.... and a check of my latest competition....

Wednesday, November 19, 2003



The talk of Columbus newsrooms Tuesday was the sudden ouster of WRBL's News Director, Mark Wildman. So was HE the one who unplugged the CBS Evening News Monday night?

Sources tell your blog WRBL staff members received an e-mail around 4:00 p.m. Monday, announcing Mark Wildman was no longer News Director. You can't help wondering what TV news cliches were uttered in the newsroom - if anyone declared it "every anchor's worst nightmare."

One UNCONFIRMED online report claims Mark Wildman was told to leave WRBL because he harassed a pregnant woman, who eventually filed a lawsuit. Somehow, I don't think this is how "Connecting with Kids" is supposed to work.

The timing of Mark Wildman's departure is rather strange - since we're still in the middle of the November TV ratings period. Local stations won't get the official ratings results for a month. So this is a bit like Auburn firing Coach Tommy Tuberville BEFORE those two big losses which started the season.

Mark Wildman came to WRBL from a TV station in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. He had to go somewhere, after that station eliminated its news department. Now we'll find out for sure whether there's a "Wildman Curse" spreading across the South....

One of Mark Wildman's first hires at WRBL was Blaine Stewart. I don't hear Stewart described as a "Senior Consumer Investigator" on the air anymore. Now he's one of the "News 3 Problem Solvers" - yet the biggest problem remains unsolved: finding more viewers.

Compared with other recent WRBL News Directors, Mark Wildman lasted awhile. He was in charge when the September 11th attacks occurred two years ago. He even survived those few months when Thomas Forester did sports with a strange-looking hairstyle.

Mark Wildman also will be remembered as the News Director who expanded WRBL's evening news block to 90 minutes. So was it HIS idea to have a "Fashion Friday" feature - complete with news anchors holding up bras once in awhile?

One posting on a TV news message board Tuesday openly rejoiced at Mark Wildman's departure. Another asked if WRBL General Manager Matt Browning will be next to go. I only hope they keep Billy Rose of Warm Springs as a SkyWatcher. When he says "y'all come see us," he really sounds like he means it.

I called Mark Wildman Tuesday night, to give him a chance to tell his side of the story -- but as of post time, he had NOT returned my call. Perhaps he'd rather not talk about what happened at WRBL. Or perhaps he's heard about this blog, and doesn't want to add insult to injury.

BLOG UPDATE: That woman I'm calling Olivia clarified some details Tuesday about that stray copy of my new music album. She now says the motel employee on Armour Road downloaded my CD off the Internet! If I make another Christian album, one song should be titled "Thou Shalt Not Steal."

I went to the trouble Tuesday afternoon of downloading Kazaa, the Internet's best-known music file-swapping service. That's the only way you can search through its song collection. But when I searched there for my name, the album title and a song title, nothing came up. So what did that woman on Armour Road do - pray for a download from cyberspace?

(Instant message to the recording industry: I uninstalled Kazaa Tuesday night - without downloading any songs. It's all gone! Please, please don't raid my home....)

To offer a tip or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post a reply.

If you quote from this in public somewhere, please be polite enough to let me know.

© 2003 Richard Burkard, All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003



The other night at dinner, a friend joked he didn't plan to buy my new album - because he was waiting for it to show up online on Kazaa. Well, I THOUGHT it was a joke. But I found out Monday at least one spare copy of my CD is being passed around odd parts of Columbus. If I walk into a Valley Rescue Mission store and see it on sale for 99 cents....

I found about the stray CD quite by accident. A woman I'll call Olivia told me she passed on a copy of the album to a neighbor. But there was one problem - I knew Olivia hadn't bought one! Unless, of course, she'd sneakily followed me to Panama City Beach last month and held up a customer in the parking lot....

(Then again, maybe I shouldn't be admitting all this. If I know Olivia hasn't bought an album, that means I know who HAS - and you'll figure out I haven't sold that many yet.)

Olivia explained to me she obtained a copy of my CD from another woman, who works at a motel on Armour Road. Problem #2: I didn't know who that woman was, or how SHE obtained a copy of it. Is there a "six degrees of compact discs" rule or something?

After thinking it over, I decided NOT to go to the motel on Armour Road and ask around about my CD. I'll simply change my promotional lines a little to say, "Bootleg copies already are spreading ALL OVER TOWN!"

The news from Olivia admittedly burned me up a little. In fact, it burned me like a CD inside a brand-new Dell Computer....

The whole idea, after all, of releasing my album is to attempt to make a living from music. And this is an album of CHRISTIAN music, at that! Haven't these people heard of Bible verses such as, "The laborer is worthy of his hire"?!

There are many people I could blame for the plague of people trading music (both online and off) without buying it, hurting musicians such as I. But I hereby put the biggest share of the blame on Barney the Dinosaur! He tells little children, "caring means sharing" - but never explains the copyright laws that restrict that.

I know, I know -- some of you are saying I should be thankful they're passing around this CD. At least they're listening to my music, you say. Maybe so - but if they're laughing at it behind my back, that's not exactly good public relations.

BLOG UPDATE: Monday night's Muscogee County School Board meeting was loaded for fireworks. Some board members said they were surprised by Superintendent John Phillips's request for a Chief of Staff. And some in the crowd were so opposed, you'd think it was a staff infection....

School Board Vice-Chair James Walker told WRBL he never knew the Superintendent wanted a Chief of Staff until he opened his envelope for a work session November 7. But other board members claim it had been planned since the summer - so maybe Mr. Walker needs to learn where some of his colleagues are getting together for breakfast.

To make the pot even hotter, we found out Monday Superintendent John Phillips's candidate for Chief of Staff already has bought a house in Russell County -- even before the Board voted on hiring him. Now this IS arrogance! After all, he'll spend most of his sales tax money to improve Phenix City's schools.

As it turned out, the Muscogee County School Board postponed a vote on a Chief of Staff indefinitely. Superintendent John Phillips apologized publicly for not communicating his plans - but hopefully that will change, once a psychic magnet school is ready.

Superintendent John Phillips explained the sudden call for a Chief of Staff by saying he was "impatient for progress." Nice try, Dr. Phillips - but if you were THAT impatient, you would have been at work last week instead of taking a vacation.

The postponed vote on a Chief of Staff leaves the Superintendent's choice in limbo. School Board member Owen Ditchfield says he feels sorry for Jerry Malinowski. Perhaps that's because Malinowski already has bought a house -- or because he never heard about how bankrupt Alabama is.

Now some other things which crossed my path and mind on Monday:

+ WRBL never put the "CBS Evening News" on the air at 6:30 p.m. - showing several minutes of commercials, then joining "Wheel of Fortune" in progress. I'm not sure if the station had technical difficulties, or if Dan Rather threw one of his hissyfits and walked out again.

+ Local inmates began cleaning up the trash at McClung Memorial Stadium, after Saturday's Fountain City Classic. As much food as I noticed sitting in the stands Sunday, they probably enjoyed a free lunch in the bleachers as well.

(Keep Columbus Beautiful put up nice "don't-litter" signs all around the outside of the stadium. Trouble is, they forgot to put any reminders inside.)

+ The Columbus Quarterback Club's Monday night guest speaker was a "nationally-known sports impressionist." [True/WDAK] I assume this guy can do Tommy Tuberville - who's still pretending to have a good Auburn football team, even though its record is 6-5.

+ Miriam Tidwell briefed reporters on next weekend's "God Bless Fort Benning" event. She almost broke down in tears when she told WRBL about a planned procession of motorcycles. Now, now, Miriam - you don't have to stand behind them and inhale the fumes.

+ Instant Message to all Money Back stores: You're joking, right? Hiking the price of unleaded gasoline Monday to $1.39 a gallon, when stations down the street are 15 cents lower?? C'mon -- which truck line is refusing to pay its bill?

To offer a tip or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post a reply.

If you quote from this in public somewhere, please be polite enough to let me know.

© 2003 Richard Burkard, All Rights Reserved.

Monday, November 17, 2003

My new CD of Christian music is winning nice reviews -- and now you can hear clips in an easier-to-download .mp3 format! Click here for details on my debut album. And while you're here, read below for some humorous thoughts about the area I call home.



At least 14 trees and four bushes were covered with hundreds of white lightbulbs - and they were all shining after dark, two weeks before Thanksgiving. The people who lit up this house obviously don't have to worry about paying their Georgia Power bills.

The large-scale light show has been on display for several days in the 600 block of Front Avenue. As someone who goes jogging in that neighborhood, I don't mind the display that much. The Chattahoochee Promenade is so poorly lit after dark that it's a wonder I haven't missed a curve and run into a gazebo.

What makes the display on Front Avenue even more amazing is that no tree in the yard seems to be spared. Even the ones in back have lights all over them. If this doesn't get nearby children out of the "night light" habit, nothing will....

But light displays like this in mid-November raise a question for me: aren't we rushing the Xmas season a bit too much? Shouldn't there be a law against lighting up your house before the costumed Santa Claus shows up at the mall?

(The way year-end holidays are blending together, before long Santa Claus will be going door-to-door on Halloween for candy - then turning around and putting it back in people's stockings.)

The early rush of "the season" was evident Saturday night, when I shopped at Rich's-Macy*s at Peachtree Mall. Every song on the store's P.A. system was a holiday song -- well, except maybe "My Favorite Things." This probably could be played every time there's a one-day sale.

One message board reports at least one radio station in the Northeast already is playing 24-hour Xmas music. Thankfully, as of Sunday night Sunny 100-FM had NOT started this yet. When it happens, I think they should be required to change the name to Snowy 100.

Maybe someone should start an offer to make more Thanksgiving music, so that holiday isn't lost in the Xmas rush. Rap performers could get things started, by calling each other turkeys.

LOTTO MILLIONAIRE UPDATE: For some reason, we haven't heard from Carlos in Spain since we replied to his e-mail last Wednesday about a "processing and attestation fee." If he stole my jackpot money and headed for Monte Carlo....

The quietness of Carlos from the ALLEGED Spanish Foreign Ministry could mean several things, of course. He could be too busy to reply to our e-mail. Or maybe he was occupied over the weekend - in a jail cell, without a laptop.

BLOG UPDATE: New Georgia Baptist Convention President Tony Dickerson of Columbus finally has explained his stance on the Ten Commandments monument controversy in Alabama. He expressed concern a removal of the monument could lead to "In God We Trust" being removed from U.S. currency. Well, those words don't seem to slow down drug dealers and

COMING THIS WEEK: The countdown to Showdown Sunday at Fort Benning....

Sunday, November 16, 2003


Dinner was eaten. Time had been spent in the Bible. So I was taking a short and sweet Sabbath nap Friday night - when the phone woke me up around 8:15 p.m. Why would someone be calling me now? I hadn't entered any contest to know high school football halftime scores....

I hurried to the phone, before the answering machine kicked in on the second ring. On the line was a woman asking survey questions about "banking institutions." She admitted she didn't know why the category was worded that way, instead of simply "banks." I think the reason is because "institutions" makes the bank Presidents feel big and important.

What banking institution comes to mind when I think about this area? Still a bit sleepy, I answered by naming my bank. Perhaps I should be thankful it wasn't that guy in Spain, trying to get my account number for the alleged lottery jackpot....

The survey-taker asked me to rate various things banks offer, as well as my own bank, based on their importance to me. One of them was friendliness of the staff. As a middle-aged single guy, I consider a staff "friendly" if a good-looking teller writes down my phone number on a separate sheet of paper.

My only contact with a bank is for a checking account, so I was stumped on rating several bank services. Their interest rate on CD's? Well, I haven't told the staff about my new compact disc of songs yet....

The survey-taker later asked if I knew about various banking-related names in the area. One of them was TIC Federal Credit Union - which I pointed out explained the phrase "banking institution." At least she didn't quiz me on those initials. I might have guessed TIC stood for "Tuskegeeans in Columbus."

The survey was over in about seven minutes - and the survey-taker thanked me for being quick with my answers. Now THIS was a switch! Several people have taken me to task lately for talking quickly - as if there's a words-per-minute speed limit in the South.

One annoyed caller heard me talk in what he considered too quick a speed, and actually asked if I'd "had too much caffeine." The callers want me to pay attention, but apparently think I'm in the drive-through lane....

OK, I confess: sometimes I DO talk fast when I want to move things along. That's especially true when a discussion seems to come back to the same point over and over again. This may explain why I'm not in the running to host a radio talk show.

But c'mon now -- aren't we supposed to be in faster times nowadays? I'm talking faster because the pace of life calls for it. And if people lose their patience in a hurry because of it - well, that only proves I'm right, doesn't it?

BLOG UPDATE: Auburn lost to Georgia Saturday, and scored only seven late points. Alabama lost to Louisiana State Saturday night, and scored only three late points. Maybe next Saturday's Alabama-Auburn "Iron Bowl" should have "first-team-to-score-wins" rules.

MENSAJES INSTANTANEAS: That's Spanish for Instant Messages - because there's a Hispanic theme to the list today:

+ To El Vaquero at Cross-Country Plaza: It's mid-November - so isn't it about time to take down the Cinco de Mayo beer signs?

+ To the Ritmo Latino Ballroom: Yes, I realize El Grupo Bronco is a big-name Mexican band. But isn't it a bit much to advertise next weekend's concert as the "event of the century?" This century still has 97 years to go....

+ To Millie's Corner on South Lumpkin Road: Just so I'm clear -- you're a Latin-Caribbean themed business, yet you're offering Thanksgiving catering with FRENCH turkeys?! Shouldn't the birds have jalapeno spices instead?

(And another thing: why are you offering French turkeys so close to Fort Benning? Have you paid attention to the news at ALL this year?)

COMING MONDAY: What season IS it, anyway?....

To offer a tip or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post a reply.

If you quote from this in public somewhere, please be polite enough to let me know.

© 2003 Richard Burkard, All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, November 13, 2003




Roy Moore learned his punishment Thursday - and Alabama's Court of the Judiciary removed him as the state's Chief Justice. He now has several choices:

+ Does he sign a big contract for a show on Fox News Channel?

+ Does he go to Trinity Broadcasting, and start a religious version of "Judge Judy?"

+ Or does he go to Washington - and help Senate Democrats defeat Attorney General Bill Pryor's nomination to the federal appeals court?

The Alabama Court of the Judiciary was unanimous, in deciding Roy Moore "willfully and publicly" defied a federal court order. Before you point fingers at him, stop and think a second. If you've ever driven 80 miles per hour on the Interstate, you've done pretty much the same thing.

Alabama's Court of the Judiciary declared Roy Moore "placed himself above the law" by refusing to remove the Ten Commandments monument from the state Judicial Building in Montgomery. Well, that's a bit misleading. If Justice Moore had sprawled himself on top of the monument last August, THEN he would have been above the Law.

The Court of the Judiciary decided it was NOT its duty to consider whether or not federal court rulings on the Ten Commandments monument were proper. After all, if the panel did that, all nine members would have to vote themselves out of office - and before long Bill Pryor might be the only politician left.

Alabama's Court of the Judiciary ruled Roy Moore "maintained his defiance" during Wednesday's trial, by not taking back statements he made in August. Justice Moore says all he did was acknowledge God. For some people, wearing a cross around your neck simply is not enough....

Some people inside the Court of the Judiciary stood and applauded, as Roy Moore walked out after the hearing. Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor received no applause at all -- perhaps because Republican Senators were busy holding a 30-hour filibuster on his court nomination.

The Court of the Judiciary and Roy Moore agreed on one thing - the Chief Justice showed no contrition during Wednesday's trial. Mr. Moore told reporters later, "You can only be unrepentant to God, not to man." Some supporters were disappointed when he stopped short of giving journalists an altar call.

Roy Moore accused Attorney General Bill Pryor of making a "drastic change" from 1997. Back then Mr. Pryor wrote an opinion praising then-Judge Moore for trying to "save our country" from the American Civil Liberties Union. This raises a good point - why don't ACLU leaders run for political office, and see if the people agree with their stands?

Roy Moore dared to suggest the first amendment of the U.S. Constitution required him as a justice to acknowledge God. That amendment speaks of freedom of religion - as well as freedom of the press. Yet for some reason, Justice Moore hasn't felt required to publish a daily newspaper.

Roy Moore told reporters he's been found guilty of acknowledging God. Yet he also noted every session of the Alabama Supreme Court begins with the words: "God save the state and this honorable court." That seems like a good enough acknowledgement for the other eight justices....

Roy Moore again complained about the Court of the Judiciary reaching a decision on his fate "in secret." Now hold on a minute! Didn't he move the Ten Commandments monument inside the judicial building late on a Sunday night - with only an invited church from out-of-state present to tape it?

Roy Moore said his dismissal as Alabama Chief Justice boils down to a "basic philosophical difference in this country over what law is." Excuse us a minute - but isn't that why people have gone to court against each other for thousands of years?

Roy Moore joked in the coming days he'll "just look for a job," as he cleans out his Chief Justice office in Montgomery. He didn't mention the fact that his wife won a six-figure court judgment earlier this year, for a pedestrian-car crash which left her injured. This isn't "pennies from heaven" - it's dollars from jurors.

Do an online search for "Roy Moore," and you'll quickly find he's more than a court judge. He also writes patriotic poems. So maybe all the former Chief Justice has to do is send some of his writings to Toby Keith....

Roy Moore can appeal his dismissal as Alabama Chief Justice, and he says he'll talk with his attorneys about it. He suggested the Court of the Judiciary's decision violates Article VI of the U.S. Constitution, by imposing a "religious test" on public officials. Most officials probably are happy with that rule - since they can't even pass a geography test.

Roy Moore says he has "absolutely no regrets" about his actions - and he promises to keep touring the country, speaking about the Ten Commandments at rallies and churches. Justice Moore could write a book about the Commandments, but Dr. Laura Schlessinger might sue for stealing her idea.

Several reporters asked Roy Moore if he plans to run for Alabama Governor in 2006. He said at this point, he doesn't know -- which means when it comes to the Bible, he's more into Law than prophecy.

(There's even a rumor floating around Montgomery than Roy Moore might challenge U.S. Senator Richard Shelby next year. This WOULD be an interesting race - since Mr. Shelby had his own "conversion experience" years ago, went he turned Republican.)

The way the Court of Judiciary rules are written, Roy Moore actually could run again for Alabama Chief Justice in 2006. And we all know how his supporters long to see a "second coming...."

Roy Moore told reporters in Montgomery he'll have an announcement to make next week which "could alter the course of this country and this state." He didn't say what it was - but Alabama football coach Mike Shula might want to keep some packing boxes ready.

So what will happen to the two-ton Ten Commandments monument, which still sits in a closet at the Alabama Judicial Building? Roy Moore says he's asked the U.S. Congress to display it at the Capitol, to "restore the balance of power." Huh - you mean that monument is a Democrat?!

Later in the day, Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor told reporters he "will not lose any sleep" over his prosecution of Roy Moore. Since Pryor is a Roman Catholic, he can settle things at confessional this weekend....

Bill Pryor maintains the removal of Roy Moore is "NOT about the Ten Commandments, or about states' rights." Ohhhh - so maybe it's about one person going all the way with his convictions, while another hides behind a law book?!

(So who should receive the John F. Kennedy "Profiles in Courage Award" for what's happened in Montgomery? Bill Pryor for standing by the law? Roy Moore for not backing down? Then again, maybe neither one - because they're both Republicans.)

Larry Darby of the Alabama chapter of American Atheists was satisfied with Roy Moore's removal. He says the former Chief Justice "made a mockery of the judicial system." Darby should know - since atheists tend to mock religious systems all the time.

Network newscasts reported Thursday night opponents of Roy Moore don't plan to stop with his dismissal as Alabama Chief Justice. Now they want him disbarred, too! Well, at least you could trust what Mr. Moore says as a used car salesman.

Some Columbus ministers would rather not discuss Roy Moore's trials. Your blog has learned new Georgia Baptist Convention Tony Dickerson did NOT want the topic brought up, during interviews this week! Now if Disney remade the "Ten Commandments" movie with Richard Simmons playing Moses, that might be different....

Meanwhile in Washington, U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama praised President Bush Thursday for nominating federal judges "opposed to the secularization of our society." So when does the President plan to withdraw Bill Pryor's nomination?

BLOG UPDATE: Nancy Boren with the Muscogee County Election Board admitted Thursday there WAS a report of poll problems during last week's school sales tax vote. A touch-screen machine at Spencer High School registered a vote the wrong way, so it was removed from use. Maybe a Fort Benning missile firing went off course to cause this....

Nancy Boren's admission opens the door for the possibility that many school sales tax votes might have been inaccurate. But keep something in mind -- this report comes from a part of town where many students get test questions wrong, too.

COMING THIS WEEKEND: Bright lights, big city, a bit early....

My new CD of Christian music is winning nice reviews -- and now you can hear clips in an easier-to-download .mp3 format! Click here for details on my debut album. And while you're here, read below for some humorous thoughts about the area I call home.




The Columbus NAACP chapter filed a challenge Wednesday to the Muscogee County school sales tax vote. We did some figuring on this - and if the no side prevails, each changed vote could be worth as much as $980,000 to the district. This makes the President Bush Re-Election fund seem absolutely cheap.

Edward DuBose of the Columbus NAACP said he's heard complaints that some "no" votes on the school sales tax last week were registered as "yes" votes. What more does the Election Board have to do - put each choice on separate computer screens?

But remember what we overheard poll workers say at the Government Center last week, about touch-screen machines being difficult to use? [5 Nov, 8:26 p.m. entry] Maybe dozens of people had misleading votes, because there was static electricity at the polling place.

Meanwhile, many were talking in Columbus Wednesday about Superintendent John Phillips's request to hire a "Chief of Staff" - and pay him $120,000 a year. Why, at that price he could hire five para-professionals to assist him....

The Chief of Staff would rank second on the ladder in Muscogee County Schools, and would be in charge when Superintendent John Phillips is away. The Superintendent was out of town on vacation Wednesday - so maybe they called a substitute teacher to fill in.

(Which raises an interesting question: what is the Superintendent doing on vacation during a school week? He could take a two-week break around New Year's....)

A former Muscogee County school employee complained to us Wednesday if Superintendent John Phillips needs a Chief of Staff, he must not be capable of doing his job. I tried to point out to the man based on his logic, every President since George Washington must have been lousy.

Former Muscogee County Superintendent Guy Sims revealed Wednesday if HE'D had a Chief of Staff, he probably would not have retired. Doesn't this sound a bit like a man who's not burning any bridges - perhaps on purpose?

Muscogee County School Board President Mary Sue Polleys told WRBL once a Chief of Staff is appointed, other
administrative openings will go unfilled. So this man not only will get a big salary -- over time, he'll probably get a bigger office.

Superintendent John Phillips already has a man in mind for the Chief of Staff's job -- and the school board plans to vote on that man next Monday. If you didn't know better, you'd think the school sales tax passed with a 91-percent majority instead of 51 percent.

Edward DuBose of the NAACP says the Superintendent's announcement about a school Chief of Staff right after the sales tax vote is a sign of "arrogance." Why, there's hardly any time to fly in Jesse Jackson to raise a protest....

But back to that proposed salary - $120,000 for a school Chief of Staff?! Doesn't Superintendent John Phillips realize what he's doing? Half of AFLAC's executives are going to demand raises, to keep up.

LOTTO MILLIONAIRE UPDATE: The hook was thrown at me Wednesday, in that e-mail offer to claim a 3.5 million
Euro lottery prize in Spain. An alleged Interior Ministry employee wrote I'd need to wire him a "processing and attestation fee." My reply should have assessed him a combination of the two - a protestation fee.

The processing and attestation fee for my lotto jackpot is only 1,250 Euros - or about $1,457. But the prize is more than three million! Don't these people believe I won? After all, they WANT me to believe that....

Since I have not provided a bank account number, the ALLEGED Spanish Interior Ministry wants me to wire 1,250 Euros to Madrid through a "Western Union money transfer." Now wait a minute here -- Western Union?! I thought I was sending this to Spain, not Mexico.

(Besides, I'm surprised they still accept Western Union in Europe at all. That union surely has been damaged, by the U.S. approach in Iraq....)

Our reply to this latest e-mail asked several questions. Why couldn't the processing fees be deducted from our jackpot? Why does your e-mail address differ sharply from the Spanish Interior Ministry's web site? And one we SHOULD have asked - how much money have you gained this year, as opposed to paying people off?

COMING FRIDAY: The big decision in Montgomery....

Wednesday, November 12, 2003



The Georgia Baptist Convention finished its annual meeting at the Civic Center Tuesday night. Unlike previous years, this year's statewide conference didn't get much attention. Maybe if they had burned federal court rulings on the Ten Commandments in the parking lot....

We heard a complaint Tuesday that the Georgia Baptist Convention in Columbus wasn't being covered enough by The Mass Media. Considering some of the divisive issues at recent meetings, a lot of Baptists probably don't mind being left to themselves for a change.

(And let's face it - things are a lot more interesting when Baptists holler and shout at something other than the devil.)

The complainer said Columbus reporters only care about how much money the Georgia Baptist Convention brings to town, and NOT the religious topics at the meeting. That's strange -- because we've heard ministers on the radio claim Jesus talked about money more than any other subject.

In a way, though, this complainer may have a point. The weekend conference of Jehovah's Witnesses at the Civic Center last July seemed to attract a lot more publicity that the Georgia Baptist Convention did. But there's a good explanation for this. Many people expected the Witnesses to act like robots or weirdos.

(And another thing: Jehovah's Witnesses tend to have private church services. Many Baptists are on TV or radio every weekend - so we've heard that message already.)

Instant Message to Mount Pleasant Baptist Church (city unknown): Your bus in the Civic Center parking lot had a thought-provoking slogan on the back - "Keep the main thing the main thing." Did you drive that bus to Main Street Village, to see how shoppers would react?

Meanwhile, a smaller group attempted to gain The Mass Media's attention Tuesday. A parent reported her son was playing "Taps" at sunset at a cemetery, and wanted TV coverage of it. Well, Tuesday WAS Veterans Day -- but maybe the family needed to be more creative. Have the boy play "Taps" at the Mansour's liquidation sale.

LOTTO MILLIONAIRE UPDATE: Spain's Interior Ministry (the REAL one) responded to our e-mail fraud question
Tuesday. It responded, of course, in Spanish. If the staff could read my English message, why couldn't they reply the same way?

Thanks to a wonderful web site providing free translations, I can show you what Spain's Interior Ministry actually wrote:

Receipt to its message is accused and we communicate that we have given transfer of the same one to the competent Unit of our Department, so that they have knowledge of the matter exposed.

We take advantage of the occasion to greet him attentively and we remain at your service for any information that desire relative al Department of the Interior.

"Greet him attentively?" Does this mean you'll shake the suspect's hand, before putting the handcuffs on him?

Meanwhile, Dr. Tomson Powell wrote us AGAIN Tuesday - to admit he sent us the wrong e-mail address for the Spanish Interior Ministry. Trouble is, the only correction was to add a number "1" to the address, which is still based at Lycos. So where did our first reply go - some cyber-café in Nigeria?

BLOG UPDATE: We didn't realize until Tuesday that the horror movie "2001 Maniacs" being filmed at Westville has Travis Tritt among its stars. Boy, did Tritt become a country music has-been in a hurry....

Tuesday, November 11, 2003



What an amazing surprise I had the other day, when this message landed in one of my e-mail accounts: "AWARD-WINNING FINAL NOTIFICATION." I opened it, of course - to see what was so special about this notification that it won an award.

Well, that wasn't quite what the message meant. The winner of the award was ME! Somehow my name was attached to a lottery drawing in Spain on September 30, which won me "a lump sum payment of 3,500,000.... Euros." This was especially puzzling, since I haven't tried marketing my new CD in Spain yet.

Global Lottery International and "World Gaming Board" supposedly selected people for this lottery through a list of three million e-mail addresses and individuals, as well as "only Microsoft users from 20,000 companies." If Bill Gates wanted to give away his billions, wouldn't he use his private foundation to do that?

If you win a Georgia Lottery jackpot, you go to the office in Atlanta and claim your prize. With this lottery in Spain, it's a lot more complicated. I was told to "contact the processing company that have been appointed for the processing of your lottery winning." Not even a Democrat like Roy Barnes came up with a government handout stunt like this.

The processing company assigned to my 3.5 million Euros is the "Euro Credit Commission" in Madrid. But admittedly, alarm bells were going off in my head from the start about this. For instance, the name I was to contact was "Dr. Tomson Powell" - a name that fits in Spain about as well as soccer star David Beckham with Barcelona.

(And that's not all. I was asked to quote reference and batch numbers on "all your correspondence with Mr. Philip Coleman." Even the woman who wrote the e-mail had a first name of Janet! I thought the World War II occupation was over.)

I decided to play along with this e-mail, just to see what happened. I sent Dr. Tomson Powell a reply with my home address, and suggested he simply address the 3.5-million Euro check to one of my account names. If the doctor asked me for up-front money, I had an answer ready -- take it off the top, and send me the rest.

Dr. Tomson Powell responded to my reply Monday morning. He now says I must go through the Spanish Interior Ministry to obtain a "prize claim certificate" - then send that certificate to his office in Madrid to claim the jackpot. No matter where you go, government paperwork always seems to get in the way.

Dr. Powell included an e-mail address for the "Ministro de Interior España" - but alarm bells went off again, because that address is based at . Considering how much money Spain hands out in its "El Gordo" lottery every December, can't this country afford its own web site?

As it turns out, a Google search for the Spanish Interior Ministry shows the government DOES have its own web site, with a very different e-mail address. I've sent that office copies of the two lottery e-mails. Of course, the way things work with me, no one in that office will be fluent in English.

Unbeknownst to Dr. Powell, I also went Google-searching over the weekend for "Global Lottery International" - and it came up on a "fraud-watch" web site, as one of many names of lottery scam operations. I was a bit surprised to find the word "Alabama" was not in any of those names.

Dr. Powell wanted me to send the Spanish Interior Ministry my full name, address, phone and fax number, "international passport number" (my passport is expired) - and an account for receiving my winnings, "including the swift code." I've never
heard of a swift code before. Is that what you find on packages of Swift Premium bacon?

We'll keep you updated on how this curious process is going. If the e-mails are true, I'm about to be a millionaire. If they're false, the senders are about to be broke - and maybe I'll get hired by that MTV show, "Punk'd."

Will you join me now, as we send some Instant Messages....

+ To Mansour's: It's sad to hear your Columbus clothing store is closing - but what did you expect? You never changed that French-sounding name.

+ To the Georgia Baptist Convention: We're glad to have you in town this week at the Civic Center. And we hope members won't be disappointed to learn there's no reason to picket outside Peachtree Mall - since the Disney Store closed months ago.

(These Baptists are a quieter bunch than I expected. I don't live far from the Civic Center, and I haven't heard a preacher with a bullhorn yet.)

+ To WCGT TV-16: Do you ever plan to come back on the broadcast dial? Or are you giving a new meaning to a "low-power" television station?

+ To NBC News reporter Lisa Myers: Why did they put you, the "Senior Investigative Correspondent," on Monday night's story about a "National Leadership Award" fund-raising drive by Republicans? Did you know I revealed this to Blog readers months ago [12 Jun] - or do I have a finder's fee coming?

Monday, November 10, 2003

My new CD of Christian music is winning nice reviews -- and now you can hear clips in an easier-to-download .mp3 format! Click here for details on my debut album. And while you're here, read below for some humorous thoughts about the area I call home.




Nothing big comes to mind from the weekend -- but a bunch of little things do:

+ The gas price in parts of Columbus is down to around $1.20 a gallon. That's about 35 cents BELOW the national average! We suggest you express thanksgiving for this by filling up now - because when Thanksgiving Week comes, the price will probably be higher.

+ Peachtree Mall now has large-sized vending machines, selling 20-ounce bottles of soda for $1.25. Well, it could be worse - several years ago, the Georgia Dome charged three bucks a bottle at a Billy Graham crusade.

+ So two brothers from Kentucky allegedly went to the Cellars Lounge in Columbus and allegedly stabbed a man from Alabama. Who could have realized Victory Drive nightclubs would be such a crossroads of the Southeast?

+ It's nice to hear Governor Perdue has appointed Dr. Elizabeth Martin of Columbus to the Georgia Board of Human Resources. Of course, when you learn her husband is Republican activist Colin Martin, the news becomes a bit less impressive....

+ Tonight is "Military Appreciation Dinner" night at Golden Corral. If I was running Ryan's down Manchester Expressway, I'd make an exception to being closed on Mondays - because there's bound to be overflow.

+ Larry Rich Nissan and other businesses already are running commercials wishing me a "happy holiday season." Did those holidays include Election Day last Tuesday? Do they include Veterans Day this week?

+ The "Bishop Bishop" religious telecast on TV-66 featured the preacher warning in the Biblical "Great Tribulation," instead of commercials showing women in bathing suits, "the women are likely to be naked." How many unconverted men heard that and said, "You call that a time of tribulation?"

+ When the Bradley Library parking lot is almost full on a Sunday afternoon in the fall, is that a sign of how badly the Falcons season is going?

+ How about Georgia's Bill Elliott, winning the NASCAR race at Rockingham! And how about NBC Sports hyping "Championship Weekend" at Homestead - only to see Matt Kenseth clinch the points title a week early, with TNT showing the race?

Saturday, November 08, 2003



Under the concrete bleacher stands, the exerciser stood.

I'd found the only open gate, and footing wasn't good.

I dreamed of a Friday workout, there at Smiths Station High,

But all the fields were locked up - and I was baffled why.

I could have slid beneath row one, to take the field so green,

But principals might have complained, their tempers growing mean.

And so I walked the other way, from that nice football field.

I walked across the tunnel, to see what that would yield.

"EVILSIZER" said the name above the field with track.

I guessed that was a man's name -- but was his heart Evil-black?

Is that why even here, the track was under lock and key?

How are folks supposed to burn a calorie or three?

The complex for athletic sports, it was locked shut as well.

And this was at mid-morning - before the heat did swell.

What is a resident to do, to work out every day?

There are not even sidewalks, to keep out of cars' way.

We're pleased to note before too long, this Smiths will have a park.

A place to jog and kick a ball - perhaps till after dark.

But until then, it must be hard to be an athlete here.

You're more likely to find a barbecue joint, selling beer.

BLOGGER'S NOTE:The preceding was free verse - since you didn't pay for it. But if you'd like to make a donation to the blog, write me and I'll tell you how.

To offer a tip or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post a reply.

If you quote from this in public somewhere, please be polite enough to let me know.

© 2003 Richard Burkard, All Rights Reserved.

Friday, November 07, 2003



(BLOGGER'S NOTE: We're saving the guests and their jokes we promised for another day. Something more serious and bizarre suddenly has come up....)

The handwriting was literally on the wall, and said it all: "YOUR HOUSE F**K UP." The person who wrote that inside my next-door neighbor's apartment Thursday left a "Marks-a-Lot" black pen behind - but I was in no mood to start a progressive art project.

My next-door neighbor went to the doctor Thursday morning - and while she was gone, a granddaughter apparently stopped by the apartment and ransacked the place. So much stuff was scattered all over the floor that I began to see where they got the inspiration for Tasmanian Devil cartoons.

I heard noises outside my apartment window during the morning, and looked out to see a shopping cart in the driveway. I recalled an old woman used to roam the neighborhood, picking up items from trash baskets and collecting aluminum cans. My neighbor had so many cans on her back porch that the collector could have asked McDonald's to super-size it.

Based on what I'd seen and heard in the past, I suspected nothing unusual and went back to my routine. I was doing a Bible study based on a sermon I heard in Florida: "Loving the World the Way God Does." But when I heard my next-door neighbor in a high-pitched anguish, I decided it was time to stop studying - and start practicing.

Two Columbus police officers were talking with my neighbor Lola. She was sure her 18-year-old granddaughter Wendy (NOT her real name) was to blame for the mess in her apartment. In fact, another neighbor saw Wendy a few blocks away - and Wendy invited him to check the apartment. Many young criminals are too ignorant to keep their mouths shut.

Lola told police she'd put Wendy out of her apartment Monday. Lola wound up caring for the granddaughter, because the parents either were dead or behind bars. Yet Wendy had run-ins with the law during her teens, including a suspension from school. You don't have to go to Panama City Beach to find "Girls Gone Wild," you know....

You only needed to peek inside Lola's front door to see the damage. Toilet paper and sugar were on the floor, words were written on walls and glass - in short, it was what Superintendent John Phillips might have done if the school sales tax had failed.

"To be honest," a police officer told Lola, "I've been waiting for her to screw up." I vaguely recalled him visiting the apartment before. "Community policing" is nice, but I personally don't like officers to become THAT familiar with the community.

The officer explained the juvenile justice system can't handle young women like Wendy. And let's face it, Judge Aaron Cohn is getting a bit old for spanking teenagers....

Lola told police she's ready to press a felony warrant against her granddaughter. "If you don't care of her, I'LL take care of her!" she declared. But Lola is 75, a bit frail, has no car - and there are no Tae Kwon Do classrooms within walking distance.

"I told you before -- I wouldn't arrest you," the officer answered Lola with a bit of a smile. Of course he wouldn't. Homicide arrests are handled by the Major Case Squad.

While police processed the warrant papers, I offered to help Lola clean up her damaged apartment. To be honest, it could have been much worse - as I didn't notice any damage to glass or porcelain items. Female ransackers must be neater than those males in Iraq....

Assuming Wendy did the damage, she used a variety of items to do it - including a green powder of some sort, that both Lola and I couldn't figure out. It sure made the bread slices on the floor LOOK moldy, at least.

The ransacker used all sorts of things from the kitchen to damage the apartment. Cleaning the living room area, I found:

+ A bag of frozen cut okra. Even some vandals care about a balanced diet.

+ A package of two Tom's cupcakes. The single guy in me saw this and pondered - "Tom's makes cupcakes?! I've gotta check that out."

+ Dozens of what appeared to be miniature sandwich cookies. Throw THESE on the floor?! No wonder it's a felony case.

But it was the handwriting on the walls that left no doubt about the prime suspect. One message near the kitchen said: "IT HURT YOU PUT ME OUT WHY" Hopefully it was not for flunking an English exam....

Lola's main bedroom had plenty of disarray as well. Wendy apparently took some lipstick and wrote the "B-word" on a couple of walls. The take-home lesson for me was obvious: "Never cheat on the women you date; never cheat on the women you date...."

(But you know what? Shortly before this interruption, I was in my bedroom feeling a bit sorry at myself for being 45 and still single. Now I'm reminded family life isn't always a guaranteed better thing.)

Also written in lipstick on a bedroom wall were these words: "IF I GO TO JAIL I HAVE BETTER LIFE" Those truly are words of despair and hopelessness -- because after all, not every downtown teenager can leave home and becomes a gangster rap star.

. Lola told me she can't sleep in her bed for awhile, because it's all wet. I don't know if Wendy spilled something on the bed in her rage - but I certainly could understand it being wet from her Grandma's tears.

After sweeping, dusting and vacuuming the living room so most of the damage was gone, Lola thanked me - and she asked me to pray for her. "Ask God to get the devil off my back," she said. Since I never saw Wendy, perhaps this devil really DID have a blue dress on.

BLOG UPDATE: The decision on debates was announced Thursday - and Columbus will NOT host one of the Presidential forums next fall. Howard Dean will have to find some other way to meet those people with Confederate flags in their pick-up trucks.

The organizers of 2004 Presidential debates awarded them to universities in Miami, suburban Cleveland, St. Louis and suburban Phoenix. If Columbus wants to compete seriously for one of these events, it seems clear something is lacking - at least one million residents.

If the Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau really wants to be bold, it could still stage a debate at the RiverCenter - and invite Presidential candidates from the lesser-known parties. It might be fun hearing Ralph Nader try to outargue H. Ross Perot.